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Illegal cannabis extraction operation led to White City Fire; 2 severely injured

An industrial warehouse suspected to have caught fire in an illegal cannabis extraction operation in the White City fire. (News10/Carsyn Currier)

Officials confirmed that the 2-alarm fire that took place last night in White City was caused by an explosion at an illegal cannabis extraction operation in a rented warehouse space.

The incident took place in the 1500 block of Antelope Rd. Officials say they believe at least four people were inside at the time of the explosion.

"One person was on the scene when we arrived, he had some minor injuries," said Mike Moran, spokesman for the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. "There were two other people who the deputies found here at the scene who were severely burned and they have been taken to a Portland-area hospital."

Moran said one person of interest is believed to have been on the scene and fled after the explosion. He noted that the interagency Marijuana Eradication Team (IMET), a joint operation including Medford Police and The County's Sheriff Office, is currently on scene along with the fire marshall from District 3 and prosecutors with the District Attorney's Office.

"Some utilities were damages, power is out to some areas still this morning along with cable and internet access for some folks so at this point a lot of things are going on here at the scene," Moran said.

Because there is still smoldering debris, Moran noted that investigators have not yet been able to sweep in the interior of the burned structure.

"At this hour as I understand it, a search warrant has been applied for and is in progress and I believe that will be served," Moran said. "So we will take this further into the investigation after today's events."

Moran said it is too early to speculate on potential charges.

"We'd have to figure out for sure what is really going on here, I think we have a pretty good idea," he said.